New Trend: Hospitals and Manufacturers Buying Wind Power Direct & In High Volume


Opening of Locust Ridge Wind Farm in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, PA. Image credit:The Daily Item, Sunbury PA

Announcing that an entire facility has gotten 'into the wind,' Dell Computer is using that news to highlight a climate action plan that's sure to please the environment market: see Dell Powers Oklahoma City Campus with 100 Percent Green Energy; Plans to Reduce Global Absolute Greenhouse Gas Emissions Additional 40 Percent by 2015 for details.

Health care, one of the few sectors left relatively stable in the economic downturn, isn't missing out on a chance to save money by doing the right thing. See below for an especially innovative new approach: a collective hospital "direct buy" of wind power from a local wind farm, as pictured.A group of Southeastern Pennsylvania-area hospitals have combined their purchasing power, contracting directly with the wind power producers for enough to supply approximately one third of their electricity for 10 years. The collective purchase bypasses the middle-man, so to speak. Health care institutions controlling prices and protecting the earth: can't do better than that.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 'healthy power' will be produced in-state, at Pennsylvania's new Locust Ridge II wind project (as pictured above), which will operate with 51 wind turbines, also manufactured locally.

The health institutions participating in the group purchase are Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, Thomas Jefferson University, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Inc., Main Line Health System, Frankford Hospitals, and Magee Rehabilitation.
What brought these diverse, possibly competing institutions together, you might be wondering?

An Inquiring news paper reporter, Stacey Burling, provided the answers.

Each hospital in the group wanted to save money on future power consumption. Don't need to be an Einstein to figure that one out, but it apparently helps:

Rodney Yancey, an Einstein spokesman, said Einstein estimates that using the wind energy will save it $4.5 million over 10 years.
Now here's the kicker.

Electricity prices in Pennsylvania and in many other US states are on the verge of drastically increasing as a result of de-regulatory initiatives put in place during the last years of the Clinton Administration. The institutional purchasing collective anticipates that and does it one better with green power.

The hospitals have locked in a flat price. The agreement begins in 2011, the year when state price caps on electricity rates in Pennsylvania expire, the health institutions said. The state imposed the caps in 1999.
TreeHugger goes out on a limb, here, with a prediction about where this trend will lead: to an industrial ecology built around sustainability.

All the energy planets are lining up; so expect more purchases and installations like these.
Not only are price caps going away in states that have not countermanded earlier de-regulatory efforts. 'Cap and trade' will further boost the cost of non-renewable electricity, and of coal-fired electricity especially.

Time to walk the walk.
Rather than rely on lobbying efforts to re-institute state-level electricity price caps, or, as some will be tempted, scapegoat environmentalists and the Obama administration for 'destroying the middle class' with climate protecting policies, astute corporations and institutions will be lining up their green power supplies, just as these organizations have done.

Pennsylvania gets a quadruple win.
Green jobs added in making wind turbines.
Local tax revenues paid by the the company making the turbines (Iberdrola).
Reduction of health care operating costs.
Lower carbon footprint.

Dell is positioning for a green rebound when the economy stabilizes.
A facility run 100% on wind power is just the kind of symbol that will attract the eyes of consumers who evaluate environmental performance across the supply chain. Dells overall plan takes this vision far beyond the millieu of single-attribute claims about a specific product.

Can you imagine one day soon a purchasing order from an IT department that requires a corporate supplier of CPUs' demonstrate continuous reduction of the carbon footprint of the entire supply chain?

Can you imagine that from an institutional purchasing collective, headed by IT managers?

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